What happened to Detroit

Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.  Charles Krauthammer explains why, going on to show why the “reactionary liberalism” that keeps adding entitlements without being able to pay for them cannot work for long, whether for a city or for a country. [Read more...]

Is libertarian economics what’s killing the GOP?

Most diagnoses of what ails the Republican party have been focusing on social conservatism, saying that Republicans need to stop opposing gay marriage and abortion if they want to start winning national elections.  But now some are arguing that the Republican commitment to libertarian economic policies–that is, a commitment to an untrammeled free market–that’s really to blame. [Read more...]

How today’s Republicans are like 1980s Democrats

Republicans have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections.  Demographics, geography, and the trends of the day are working against them.  Just like the Democrats in the 1980s.  See Dan Balz in Republicans today can learn lessons from the Democrats’ past. But will they? – The Washington Post.

Democrats have a file on you

One of the reasons President Obama was re-elected, according to observers, is the way his campaign made use of data-mining and other on-line resources.  This article by Craig Timberg and Amy Gardner in the Washington Post details what the campaign did and says how other Democrats are trying to get their hands on the database that was compiled.

But when you read the article, do red flags about privacy keep coming up?  I wonder if people who are worried about the information Google collects on each one of us has a similar concern about the information the Democratic party collects on each one of us.  And if the commercial use of this kind of information is problematic, isn’t the political use even worse?

If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you. His vast campaign database includes information on voters’ magazine subscriptions, car registrations, housing values and hunting licenses, along with scores estimating how likely they were to cast ballots for his reelection.

And although the election is over, Obama’s database is just getting started. . . .

The database consists of voting records and political donation histories bolstered by vast amounts of personal but publicly available consumer data, say campaign officials and others familiar with the operation. It could record hundreds of pieces of information for each voter.

Campaign workers added far more detail through a broad range of voter contacts — in person, on the phone, via e-mail or through visits to the campaign’s Web site. Those who used its Facebook app, for example, had their files updated with lists of their Facebook friends, along with scores measuring the intensity of those relationships and whether they lived in swing states. If their last names sounded Hispanic, a key target group for the campaign, the database recorded that, too. . . .

All Democratic candidates have access to the party’s lists, which include voting and donation histories along with some consumer data. What Obama’s database adds are the more fine-grained analyses of what issues matter most to voters and how best to motivate them to donate, volunteer and vote. . . .

The database powered nearly everything about Obama’s campaign, including fundraising, identifying likely supporters and urging them to vote. This resulted in an operational edge that helped a candidate with a slim margin in the overall national vote to trounce Romney in the state-by-state electoral college contests.

Obama was able to collect and use personal data largely free of the restrictions that govern similar efforts by private companies. Neither the Federal Trade Commission, which has investigated the handling of personal data by Google, Facebook and other companies, nor the Federal Election Commission has jurisdiction over how campaigns use such information, officials at those agencies say.

Privacy advocates say the opportunity for abuse — by Obama, Romney or any other politician’s campaign — is serious, as is the danger of hackers stealing the data. Voters who willingly gave campaigns such information may not have understood that it would be passed on to the party or other candidates, even though disclosures on Web sites and Facebook apps warn of that possibility.

Chris Soghoian, an analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union and a former FTC technologist, said voters should worry that the interests of politicians and commercial data brokers have aligned, making legal restrictions of data collection less likely.

“They’re going to be loath to regulate those companies if they are relying on them to target voters,” he said.

via Democrats push to redeploy Obama’s voter database – The Washington Post.

Is Romney going soft on abortion?

Mitt Romney, as expected, seems to be tacking towards the center in an effort to woo Independents and to counter the “war against women” allegations.  This is what he told the Des Moines Register:

“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

via Romney: Abortion not on my agenda – CBS News.

Among his long history of different opinions on life issues, Romney’s stated position today is that he is pro-life with exceptions (for rape, incest, and the life of the mother).  Does this sound like he is saying, yes, I’m mostly pro-life, but if I’m elected, don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything about it?

How should pro-life voters take this?  A Romney administration, however unenthusiastic about the issue,  would surely be better for the  pro-life cause than Obama’s.  He says he’ll end the Obamacare abortifacient mandate, cut funding for Planned Parenthood, and stop tax money from going to international abortion providers.  He also says he will appoint conservative judges.  After all, given Roe vs. Wade, abortion law is in the hands of the courts rather than  legislators.

In addition to those pro-abortion measures implemented by the Obama administration, the Democrats in their convention came across as not just pro-choice but as positively pro-abortion.  Bill Clinton’s Democratic party wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.”  But at this convention, speaker after speaker displayed,  to thunderous applause, an untroubled, fanatical, and outright evil embrace of abortion.

But still. . . .Though Romney is now trying to placate pro-lifers, they should be excused for being cynical, for thinking Republicans once again are trying to use them for their votes and activism, while giving them as little as possible.

Is this too harsh an assessment?  If you are pro-life, do Romney’s words make you reconsider supporting him?  Do pro-lifers have any other options?

 

Report from a battleground state

We live in Virginia, which has been named a battleground state, a crucial source of lots of electoral votes that could go either way.  So we denizens of that state–sorry, Commonwealth–are being subject to lots of campaigning.

Every time we turn on the television, say, to watch a ballgame, virtually every commercial break includes an ad for Barack Obama.  These are just hammering Mitt Romney and are effectively made.  To be sure, some of them are ludicrous, repeating long-refuted charges that even liberal fact-checkers have debunked, such as Mitt Romney being responsible for businesses outsourcing jobs to China.  One Obama commercial is all about how Romney will raise your taxes!  Not on the basis of anything Romney has proposed but simply because Democrats are saying that “he would have to” raise middle class taxes to pay for his economic plan.  Obama attacking Romney for raising taxes!  But we don’t see any Romney commercials answering those charges or refuting those claims or taking the Democrats to task for their bogus ads.  There are actually relatively few Romney ads at all, and they are mostly bland and unmemorable.  The one that sticks out the most is a super-Pac spot that consists mainly of elderly small business owners carping about President Obama in a crotchety but not particularly inspirational way.

What the Romney campaign is doing in Virginia is robo-calls.  Last weekend, I got four in one hour.  Recorded calls featuring Mike Huckabee or someone else exhorting me to vote for Romney.  I hate robo-calls.  Even when they are on behalf of someone I might support.  They are an intrusion, an interruption of whatever I am doing, an annoyance.  Let me ask you:  Do you or anyone you know appreciate getting robo-calls?  Do any of you bother to so much as listen to them completely?  Don’t you hang-up as soon as you realize the call is a recording?  Do they make you more likely to vote for the candidate who is subjecting you to these things?  I have the sense that every time the robo-calls for Romney go out, thousands and thousands of Virginia voters are turning against him.   Which triggers more and more robo-calls for Romney.

An Obama volunteer knocked on our door.  He was an elderly gentleman, actually, but quite enthusiastic.  He said that he had a grandson who was going to college and that President Obama was making it possible.  He said that Obama started the Pell grants.  Uh, no, my wife explained.  Pell grants started in 1965.  We, nearly as old as he was, got Pell grants.  But that didn’t phase him.  He said Romney would ruin America, and we’ve really got to re-elect Obama.

No Romney volunteer has knocked on our door.  Does he even have volunteers?  Or just paid workers and party loyalists?  I haven’t come across any.

I live in a battleground state, but it seems like only one side is battling.


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